A grand total of three people, not including this correspondent, are watching the match in the afternoon heat at the Sachin Tendulkar Gymkhana in Kandivli. A security guard informs you that Tripura are playing. He is not sure which is the other team. The three men know the other team is Nagaland; they are relatives and friends of one of their support staff. But they are not sure where Nagaland actually is in India.
"It is right next to China," one of them says. "No, it is right in a corner," another counters. The third searches for Nagaland on his phone's maps app. "See, it is actually right in the corner. It is beyond even Bangladesh."
This is a Group C match of the Women's Senior Twenty20 Trophy. But there is only one team out there that is playing T20, and it is not Nagaland. Tripura win the toss and post a meaty 129/4. Nagaland begin with an opening stand of 35, but that takes nearly half the innings. The full 20 overs produce 55 runs.
Nagaland's plan is to basically last for 120 balls. Foremost, they want to avoid the embarrassment of say, a 25 all-out. Against Mumbai three days later, they make 46 chasing 162.
A google search for 'Nagaland women cricket' returns the scorecard of their infamous U-19 match against Kerala, when they were bowled out for 2 in Guntur. It was back in November 2017, but it still jars.
Meanwhile, Sentilemla Imsong walks in at one-drop and defends and misses her way to 6 off 30 deliveries. The only local player in the top four - the other three are professionals from outside the state - Sentilemla held a bat for the first time only last year.
A few minutes of watching her bat and you can see she is going about it the way a well-meaning beginner would. Her feet do not move much as she leans her upper body forward and offers a straight bat. It makes for a good picture when she defends. Any movement, of course, and she is beaten.
"It has only been two seasons so it is a bit difficult for me right now but I hope going forward I can get better," Sentilemla says.
She used to play volleyball in college, which helps in judging the path of the ball through the air, according to Sujit Rane, the team's trainer-cum-manager. Plus, "obviously you need strong arms and shoulders, so that helps," Sentilemla lists another benefit of volleyball in cricket.
Making up the numbers
After the Supreme Court mandated that each state be made a part of the domestic cricket structure, states without any cricketing background, such as Nagaland, have had to struggle to even make up the numbers, especially for their women's teams. And into their third season, the learning curve still remains rather steep.
At the grassroots, cricket has only just started to register in the Naga psyche. In fact, Elina Muru, a medium-pacer, grew up hating the game, for entirely personal reasons though. "My brother used to watch the game on tv so I used to hate cricket so much. I never liked it," she says. "My brother would put the tv on and it would all be cricket, cricket, cricket. I used to tell him, 'don't watch this cricket in front of me.' But I love it now."
Elina's entry into cricket is illustrative, and also revealing, of how the game is managing in the north-east in these early years. She had only accompanied her friends to trials in Dimapur. "She was there for just timepass. But I felt that with her athletic body structure, she could play. She bowled well in the nets when we asked her to. First day, she was made captain of the U-19 team," says Hokaito Zhimomi, the first man from Nagaland to play first-class cricket when he debuted for Assam in 2012.
The 33-year old Zhimomi is a trailblazer for the tiny state, having also played for years on the Kolkata circuit, which also included a brief stint at Kolkata Knight Riders in 2009.
Ask Sentilemla who her inspiration is and she instantly replies, "My inspiration is my brother." She is the daughter of Zhimomi's maternal uncle. "She was doing nothing at home, and told me she wanted to play. We were short of girls. So I encouraged her. Beyond that, it has all been her hard work," Zhimomi says.
Cricket is slowly garnering interest in Nagaland, says Zhimomi, but almost all of it is concentrated in Dimapur, where he has an academy. "We have a culture of preparing for the civil services. People don't trust sport enough to make it a career. Convincing parents is difficult. But it is slowly picking up now. People follow the Indian team and the IPL," he says.
"They are aware of the money factor. Earlier we had to push people to come. Now even the girls you don't have to tell much. They have seen the lifestyle. You stay in good hotels, you earn good money, you get to travel to cities like Mumbai."
In their search for players, Nagaland have also had to turn to other sports. Limato Ao has the posture and gait of someone who is used to a more physically-demanding sport. "Before cricket I used to play basketball at the national level. I quit playing since we don't have many avenues in Nagaland for basketball. I also played for Mizoram as a guest player. But I am fully into cricket now."
An academy coach told Limato that Nagaland needed a bowler. "He knew that I used to bowl when I was a kid. I would play rubber-ball cricket with my guy friends then, normal cricket, no tournaments or anything.
"I am getting to know a lot of the technical stuff only now. Now I am learning about swing."
What does she prefer, inswing or outswing? "It has been only a few months... They just ask me to bowl, I haven't had a lot of time yet to really get into the technique."
You realise why Rane says Nagaland should not even be thinking about results for the next few seasons, and just focus on getting exposure and building experience.
Meanwhile, the three men leave when Nagaland need 90-odd in four overs. At least they now know where Nagaland is.